Raw, peeled, steamed, roasted, boiled, or grilled, vegetables bring vast options for variety to our dinner tables, which is a good thing. After all, we need them in our diets.
The versatility of veggies when it comes to preparation opens them up to wondrous possibilities.
And while all vegetables benefit our health, some give us larger helpings of various vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
For the best diet, we want to know what vegetables are the healthiest for us.
Healthiest Vegetables To Eat
Next time you’re grocery shopping or prepping dinners for the week ahead, consider this list of the healthiest vegetables to eat.
Behold the humble beet. It’s long been a food additive, but in the last couple of generations or so, it has come into its own as a fall vegetable that can act as a standalone veggie dish.
It comes in many colors, though most of us think of them as typically reddish pink. They’re one of the few naturally pink foods!
That color comes from betanin, an antioxidant in the plant, and it’s been shown to prevent DNA damage and reduce cholesterol.
A 100g serving of beets contains nearly 3 grams of fiber, beneficial quantities of calcium and magnesium, and almost as much potassium as the banana, fabled for its status as an excellent source of it.
While many people cite broccoli as a negative food that takes more calories to digest than the food contains, this isn’t true.
However, broccoli remains a healthy choice, as it’s quite high in its water content, which is one reason the negative food idea may have taken root.
High in protein, fiber, and vitamin B, broccoli brings great nutritional value to the table.
It’s worth it, though, to note that broccoli’s nutritional value can be greatly affected by how it’s prepared.
Glucosinolates in broccoli, which may be the cancer-fighting parts of the plant, break down in any cooking situation, although boiling shows the most degradation to glucosinolates of all cooking methods.
I love adding broccoli to salads or frying it up with tofu in a delicious sauce for a veggie-packed meal.
A 99g serving of cauliflower (about 1/6th of a head) packs a punch.
At only 25 calories, this serving holds 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C in addition to a couple of grams each of dietary fiber, protein, and sugar.
As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is an antioxidant and cancer-fighting food.
Cauliflower is also fantastic as a low-carb alternative in many dishes. For example, it’s used in pizza bases and rice.
You only reap 33 calories from a cup of kale. In those calories, you’ll get good doses of potassium, copper, manganese, and calcium in addition to vitamins A, C, and K.
It’s a terrific cool-weather crop, so if you’re growing your own vegetables, you can have fresh kale on your table late into the year.
One of the highest selling points of kale lies in its versatility. Of course, it can be eaten raw in a salad, but as a vegetable course, kale can be steamed, sauteed, or roasted, and each incarnation produces nice flavors and textures.
Kale has also made inroads into the smoothie world, bringing its superfood qualities to these health-conscious frozen fruit and vegetable drinks.
Crispy kale is also my go-to healthy snack when I’m craving something salty.
Dark, leafy greens like spinach are renowned for their high iron content.
Iron plays a pivotal role in oxygenating the blood, so proper daily amounts are vital.
Iron-rich foods like spinach play an outsize role in the nutritional needs of pregnant women.
One cup of spinach contains seven calories and high concentrations of vitamin K in addition to its other properties, so eat up!
Sweet potatoes constitute a vital food staple in some countries due to their high concentrations of vitamins and nutrients.
It provides a good amount of calories, necessary to prevent malnutrition.
We sometimes forget this in our perennial quest to cut calories and lose weight, but they’re far from empty calories.
The sweet potato provides a healthy percentage of daily values of:
- Vitamins B6 and C
It also has sky-high amounts of vitamin A.
Asparagus is another superfood— 20 calories in half a cup contains protein, fiber, phosphorus, and potassium, plus vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Like broccoli, some nutritional value degradation occurs, though depending on the cooking method and the nutrients in question, the difference can be minimal.
Proteins and fibers decline slightly when raw asparagus undergoes cooking, as does vitamin B6.
However, iron and potassium values drop by more than half when raw asparagus gets cooked.
Nonetheless, the veggie is delicious on the side of a well-cooked piece of salmon.
Carrots are great for your eyes, but the myth that they improve your eyesight stems from a World War II propaganda and misinformation campaign.
Still, carrots have excellent health benefits, even if they didn’t help British pilots see German planes better at night.
Beta carotene, vitamin A, and biotin appear in high amounts in carrots, and if you eat the peel, too, you’ll get an extra shot of niacin.
That they appear on this list and contain antioxidants is no coincidence. I love honey-roasted carrots during the festive season.
One of the biggest components of garlic’s healthy attributes is the sulfur it contains.
Sulfur does fantastic things for the body, including boosting the immune system. It also helps with physical performance, making athletic recovery a bit faster.
The ancient Greeks knew this, too, as they gave it to their Olympic athletes as a performance-enhancing drug.
Aside from that, though, garlic delivers vitamins and nutrients in just a few calories.
Its medicinal properties might end up overshadowed by its deliciousness, but that’s icing on the cake.
Garlic is used in just about every cuisine and it’s no surprise why. Learn about different types of garlic!
As one of the great sources of copper, mushrooms bring vitamin B to your meals, and when exposed to UV light, they bring even more vitamin D to the party than just about any other vegetable.
They are incredibly low in calories. Mushrooms also contain no cholesterol, very little fat, and sodium, and they are delicious raw or sauteed.
Technically, a mushroom is a fungus and not a veggie, but it shares enough qualities with vegetables that I’ve included them under this umbrella.
I love bringing mushrooms to the barbecue, as they’re one of the best vegetables to grill.
In addition to their ability to add depth to the flavor profile of just about any savory dish, onions bring antibiotic properties to food, making them a healthy and prophylactic element of our diets.
While onions bring fiber to the table, they also bring fructans — chains of fructose molecules that act prebiotically, which means they benefit our gut health.
That said, fructan intolerance can occur, and many people mistake it for gluten intolerance.
That said, even those who react poorly to them need them— even in small doses— as gut health is a critical element of overall wellness.
At more than 90 percent water, a tomato can if nothing else, help with hydration.
While they aren’t incredibly high in fiber and protein, they are chockablock with a pigment called lycopene.
Why should we care about a pigment? The color isn’t the real attraction. Since tomatoes spend so much time in the sun, they need protection, and lycopene provides it.
That pigment (an antioxidant) also protects us from sun damage when it’s in our system.
But lycopene also contributes to better heart health, lower blood pressure, and eases inflammation that can lead to circulatory issues and even strokes.
Sure, a tomato is a fruit, but we all treat it like a vegetable. After all: knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it into a fruit salad!
High in vitamin C and potassium (no matter if you choose green, red, yellow, or orange), bell peppers taste great and help you maintain your health at the same time.
There’s ample evidence suggesting that bell peppers have arthritis-fighting properties, protecting bone and cartilage alike.
They are also high in carotenoids, which contribute to the function and overall health of the body’s immune system.
I enjoy eating them raw in a Greek pasta salad or stir-frying them. They bring a bright crispness to many entrees.
If there’s a tastier, Millennial-friendly piece of food in the world somewhere, no one has found it yet. Avocado is a rare food that brings more healthy fat than carbs.
The avocado is, like many other items on this list, high in potassium. That matters because potassium acts as a counterpart to sodium.
We all get more than enough sodium, which regulates fluid levels outside of cells, so it’s crucial to have potassium in our diets, too. Potassium regulates fluid levels inside the cells.
Add a good chunk of fiber alongside zero cholesterol to the avocado’s creamy deliciousness, and you might just be describing the perfect food.
Learn about the different varieties of avocado!
Okay, people complain about these. Even if they were terrible to eat (they’re not), they pack tons of fiber and vitamins and help keep your bones, blood, and immune systems firing on all cylinders.
They’re very filling while having a relatively low-calorie count, so they figure largely in many weight-loss diets. Brussels sprouts are also full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
But none of that matters if you think they’re gross. And if you grew up being forced to eat boiled or steamed sprouts, you might be put off these nutrient-dense veggies.
But it might change your mind if you roast them with olive oil and sea salt. You’ll have a revelatory experience and never think of these glorious veggies the same way again.
Healthiest Vegetables To Eat
- Sweet Potato
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
By leaving some of our moms’ cooking methods behind, we can learn to love some veggies we might have grown up hating. Or we can choose other vegetables to eat, so we have a balanced diet.
These are the healthiest vegetables to eat, and everyone can find at least a couple of options that make our mouths water.
After all, we have to eat, and we need vegetables, so we may as well find the ones we love to eat, right? Let me know your favorite vegetable in the comments below!